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Hand therapy is the assessment, treatment and rehabilitation of hand and upper limb injuries. Hand therapy evolved from the need for clinicians with the skills, knowledge and experience to manage the challenging recovery of complex hand and upper extremity injuries.

In New Zealand, hand therapists achieve a physiotherapy or occupational therapy degree prior to undertaking post graduate study in the hand and upper limb.

A hand therapist will have undertaken a four-year degree, a minimum of one year post graduate study, 1800 clinical hours of treating a variety of hand conditions and peer review to demonstrate their competency in practice, prior to attaining registration.  As such, hand therapists are highly skilled in evaluating wounds and scars, swelling, pain, sensation, joint stability, movement, strength, and function including work and sporting activity.

Hand therapists have a contract with ACC which is specific to the hand and upper limb meaning that they treat injuries and conditions from the elbow down to the fingers. 

At the Merivale Hand Clinic therapists work closely with local doctors and orthopaedic and plastic surgeons.  Hand therapists bridge the gap from medical management of upper extremity conditions to successful recovery, allowing individuals to function normally in their daily lives.

For example, the medical management of a fractured wrist will involve reduction of the fracture and the application of a cast to allow the bone to heal in a good position.  On removal of the cast, hand therapy will provide splints or sports guards to protect the wrist, advice and education to ensure the patient understands the rehabilitation process, and exercises to restore strength, movement and function .

For injuries that require surgical repair, hand therapists provide post-operative treatment and care.  Rehabilitation is often a fine balance of restoring movement and function, while protecting the repaired structure. It is this skill where the art and science of hand therapy skills are particularly evident.

The Merivale Hand Clinic was established in 1985 to provide Canterbury with a dedicated hand therapy service. The clinic prides itself on having highly skilled staff working at six locations across Christchurch and North Canterbury and is a recognised leader in the field of hand therapy.

Patients are encouraged to  either call us on 03 355 9775 to make an appointment, or use the contact form on our websiteYou do not need a doctors referral to see a hand therapist.

If the condition is the result of injury, ACC documentation can be completed at the clinic (please note work related gradual process injury claims must be completed by a GP).

We look forward to being of assistance to you.





Filed under Hand Therapy